Please give a warm welcome to author Dane Cobain! Dane has kindly agreed to grace my website with his presence, and I am pleased to introduce him to you! Without further ado, here’s….Dane!
Hi! My name’s Dane Cobain and I’m a poet and author. I write across a lot of different genres – so far, I’ve released a supernatural thriller called No Rest for the Wicked, a collection of poetry called Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home, and a literary fiction novel called Former.ly.
- How did you get started on your writing journey?
I’ve been writing and creating stuff for as long as I can remember – when I was a kid, I used to take popular songs and rewrite their lyrics. When I was about fourteen, I started writing poems and songs and keeping a journal, and I progressed into fiction from there. I studied creative writing at university, and the rest is history!
- Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?
I think everyone influences each other, but there are a few that particularly stand out. Charles Bukowski is the biggest influence on my poetry, purely because I love the way that he says so much with so little. Then there are people like Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway, whose approach to writing inspires me, and people like Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman, who I grew up with. And then there are my contemporaries – I know a lot of writers and they’re all doing interesting stuff.
- Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about?
My most recent novel is a literary fiction piece called Former.ly, which follows the story of a social networking site where nothing is as it seems. It touches on a number of different genres, but is mostly intended as a sort of snapshot of this moment in time.
- How is the title significant?
Former.ly is the name of the social networking site. The novel also has a subtitle: ‘The Rise and Fall of a Social Network’. That’s significant because it tells you what to expect!
- Where did inspiration for this come from?
When I was at university, my lecturers used to tell me that I should write about what I know about. I work in social media marketing for a living, and so I know quite a lot about how social networking sites are operated. Former.ly just grew out of that.
Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?
The protagonist is a web developer called Dan, a guy who has an inquisitive nature and who grows more and more convinced that something strange is going on. He’s supported by a cast of characters, including Flick (badass PR lady and office manager), Kerry (film-maker extraordinaire), Abhi (back-end developer) and the site’s two enigmatic founders, John and Peter.
- Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
I think you get more out of it if you’ve grown up with internet culture or if you have a knowledge of web development, but it’s not a requirement. Mostly, it’s aimed at everyone – if you use a social networking site, you should read it.
- What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?
Interesting question! I’m not sure there necessarily is one, but I do hope that it makes my readers think about things.
- What is your writing process like?
I write every day, and I have a system that I use that helps to keep me productive. It’s basically about multi-tasking wherever possible and just continuing to work on stuff at all times. I usually spend at least six hours a day being productive with stuff – more, on the weekends.
- How do you go about editing your story?
I work with an editor called Pam Harris. She’s fantastic – she’ll make three passes at it and provide some great suggestions about how to develop and refine the story, and she’s also very good at copy editing, too. I’m currently working with her to edit my non-fiction book – Social Paranoia: How Consumers and Brands Can Stay Safe in a Connected World.
- Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
For Former.ly, I designed the cover myself! That said, it was building on some initial concepts that were created by Michelle Fairbanks of Fresh Design, who worked with me on the cover for Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home.
- How did you go about getting published?
I wrote lots, and sent stuff off to publishers, and I also founded a book blog. It was through the book blog that I met Jesse James Freeman of Booktrope, who eventually went on to publish No Rest for the Wicked and Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home. Following the announcement that Booktrope would be going out of business, No Rest for the Wicked was accepted by Dragon Moon Press, which is operated by Gwen Gades, another ex-Booktroper. My other books are self-published through CreateSpace.
- What was your self-publishing experience like?
In many ways, there have been two phases. Before No Rest for the Wicked, I wrote and printed almost a dozen books, but they were really for friends and family only. It was okay, but I didn’t really feel like a proper ‘author’ until I signed my first deal. Now, I’m dabbling with a bit of both – I’ll let you know how it goes!
- What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The main pro is that often it’s the only option, with other advantages including the fact that you get to maintain creative control. As for cons, there’s the problem of quality control when it comes to editing and cover design, as well as the lack of marketing support from the publisher.
- What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?
I think the main surprise about self-publishing so far has been how easy it can be to create a professional quality book. Really, if you can learn from traditional publishers and obey certain stylistic guidelines, and if you can make deals with freelance editors, cover designers and the like, then it’s not too difficult to put out a high quality release without a publisher.
- How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?
I work with as many other writers and bloggers as I can, and do a lot in the local area, too. Social networking and blogging is invaluable, and releasing videos can also be a good way of interacting with people. Everyone has a different style when it comes to self-promotion – the key is to try different stuff and to measure the results, so that you can improve as you go along.
- Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before? Good or bad?
I wish that I’d realized how important it is to work with an editor; it really does help you to take your work to the next level.
- Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
Don’t be afraid to ask people for help – learn from other people’s mistakes so that your own work is better.
- What plans do you have for the future of your writing?
I’ve just started work on a series of detective novels, but I also have a whole heap of old manuscripts that I’m looking to get edited and published over the next couple of years. There are too many for me to list – just keep your eyes peeled and watch this space!
- What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
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